Apple's performance comparisons to Windows PCs continue to be hilarious and ridiculous

Mac Mini powered by M2 on a desktop paired to Apple Studio Display
(Image credit: Apple)

Today is one of those days Apple fans get excited because they don't get new hardware that often. They're not treated to the smorgasbord of desktop and laptop machines that Windows users have to choose from. But today, there are new laptops and desktops for those guys. Good for them. 

I wanted to take a moment to highlight the Mac Mini (opens in new tab), though. A desktop PC that I have a lot of fondness for. I used one for many years as my main machine, I currently have two 2012 models I use with Ubuntu Server on them, and I spent plenty of time with the M1-powered version in 2022. 

I like the Mac Mini. And at its new $599 starting point, I love the sound of the new one. This isn't about the Mac Mini. It's about the company behind it that continues to use hilarious, ridiculous, absurd comparisons to Windows PCs in its big announcements that make the Apple product sound better than it actually is. 

Apple Mac Mini powered by M2 compared to underpowered Windows desktop

Apple Mac Mini powered by M2

(Image credit: Apple)

Guess what? The Apple M2 and M2 Pro are better than the M1 chips that came before. Shocker! The M1 Mac Mini is a fantastic computer, and my personal problems were never with the hardware. I just think macOS sucks. A lot. 

But let's take a look at how Apple chose to compare the performance of its latest mini desktop PC to the Windows competition. 

"With all this performance, Mac mini is up to 5x faster than the bestselling Windows desktop, delivering incredible value to first-time computer buyers, upgraders, and PC switchers."

Obviously, Apple doesn't name-drop competitors, but without scrolling right to the bottom, this sounds INCREDIBLE. So let's have a look at what that bestselling Windows desktop was running, shall we? 

"Testing was conducted by Apple in November and December 2022 using preproduction Mac mini systems with Apple M2, 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD, as well as production Intel Core i5-based PC systems with Intel UHD Graphics 730 and the latest version of Windows 11 available at the time of testing. The bestselling system is based on publicly available sales data over the prior 12 months. Performance tests are conducted using specific computer systems and reflect the approximate performance of Mac mini."

Riiiiight. 

M2 versus an old Intel CPU? Really?

Render of a generic Intel CPU

(Image credit: Intel)

Comparing Apple Silicon to Intel CPUs is never a true Apples-to-Apples fight because, for one, you're looking at ARM versus x86. Performance can certainly be compared, but it's harder to get an absolute because Apple's architecture is very different. 

The fact that Intel UHD 730 graphics is in play on a Core i5 CPU suggests that this bestseller isn't one of the best desktop PCs you can get. It has to be running an 11th Gen Rocket Lake CPU or a 12th Gen Alder Lake CPU. And more specifically, the Core i5-11400, i5-11400T, i5-12400, or Core i5-12400T. I'm comfortable hedging on the T variant of whichever because that would be the CPU found in a whole heap of workstation CPUs. 

For a Windows desktop to be a bestseller, you would imagine it's one of those generic boxes sold by the likes of Lenovo or Dell to enterprise customers in bulk. 

So hey, great news guys, the new $599 Mac Mini is up to 5x faster than potentially a now two-generations-old Intel machine with terrible integrated graphics. Good job! 

The point isn't that the Mac Mini is this much faster; you would really hope it is. Intel's 13th Gen is significantly better than its own predecessors; that's how it goes. But it's the misleading and ridiculous nature. This is most likely accurate, but it's a poor comparison. Who can get any real information from this? 

Real data for informed decisions

The Apple M2 logo

(Image credit: Apple)

Naturally, it's an Apple press release, and if there's one thing we know about the company, it really likes your money. There's not necessarily anything wrong with how this latest product is being framed, but the type of buyer specifically name-dropped has no real data to go on to make an informed decision. 

If you fully spec up a Mac Mini, it will cost over $4,000. But whether you're buying this one or you're buying the $599 entry model, if you're switching from a Windows machine, you deserve to be able to make a better decision. 

Comparing to old Intel chips certainly isn't the answer. We now have 13th Gen desktop chips, and the Core i5 was available in one form when Apple says it did its comparison testing in December 2022. How about telling the good people of the world what they can expect compared to a current desktop processor rather than something old and most probably used in an enterprise environment? 

I like what Apple has been doing with its own silicon. I have a lot of respect for its performance and its efficiency. But I continue to hate the narrative around it. It's not magical; it's a computer. Real people will spend real money on these things; how about helping them with some real data to help them? Unless Apple doesn't really value its customers beyond helping them empty their wallets. 

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine